Identify popular beliefs in each culture that seem similar and those that seem different.

  • Comparing Ancient Skeptics. Write an essay comparing Lucretius and Wang Chong (=Wang Ch’ung), skeptical philosophers of ancient Rome and China. They were skeptical about popular religious and spiritual beliefs and widely-held superstitions. Lucretius was an Epicurean philosopher of Roman culture (Chapter 6). Wang Ch’ung was a thinker in ancient Chinese culture (Chapter 7). Focus your comparison on their writings as found at http://www.humanistictexts.org/lucretius.htm and http://www.humanistictexts.org/wangchung.htm#On Not Flying to Heaven. Your paper should:

a) Using examples from their writings, compare these two (2) thinkers on their views about specific subjects and on their approach in explaining and expressing their skepticism.

b) From this comparison, identify popular beliefs in each culture that seem similar and those that seem different.

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c) From this comparison, suggest any modern situation in which materialist skeptics confront spiritual and religious beliefs, and comment on the considerations of free expression and cultural respect.

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